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Aztecs take final game of series

SAN DIEGO — Saturday’s storyline started two years ago for the University of New Mexico baseball team.

The Lobos couldn’t get pitcher Garrett Hill in a recruiting battle in 2016 and UNM’s hitters couldn’t get to the right-hander in a 3-2 road loss to No. 23 San Diego State at Tony Gwynn Stadium on Saturday. Hill (6-0) allowed just one run and three hits in 8⅓ innings, striking out seven as the Aztecs (18-9, 7-4 Mountain West) salvaged the final game of a three-game series.

“(Hill) pitched really well,” Lobos coach Ray Birmingham said in a postgame phone interview. “He commanded three pitches and really gave us trouble with his changeup. We lost a recruiting battle for that kid two years ago, so I guess we kind of lost this one a long time ago.”

UNM’s only run charged to Hill scored after he left the game. Jared Mang smashed a two-run homer off reliever Jorge Fernandez to get the Lobos (12-13-1, 6-6) to within a run with one out in the ninth.

But Fernandez retired Connor Mang on a fly ball and struck out pinch-hitter Jeff Deimling to end the game.

New Mexico starter Cody Dye (2-4) could not match Hill’s performance, allowing three runs on five hits with three walks in 4⅓ innings. Relievers Chad Smith and Drew Gillespie held SDSU scoreless the rest of the way, but UNM’s offense could not break through against Hill.

Still, Birmingham was largely satisfied with his team’s series victory.

“Winning a road series against a nationally ranked team, I definitely feel good about it,” Birmingham said. “Our bullpen was really good in all three games. It won’t be a bad bus ride home.”

Mang’s home run was the only extra-base hit for the Lobos. Chase Calabuig went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI for the Aztecs.

New Mexico will host Arizona for a single game Monday at 6:30 p.m. and open a three-game home series against Fresno State on Friday.